Regular readers (hi both!) will know I’ve been doodling around with a system for playing traditional WW2 games. I’ve monkeyed around with the 4e engine as a core, using Gamma World amongst many many others. I was waiting to see what the Next playtest added to the pot, but that’s still circling around itself so it’s not really helping me much.
I drove myself mad doing a system from scratch. Not doing that again.
And then it hit me. I’m a bit slow on the uptake so please forgive if this is patently obvious to you. The answer lies in original D&D.
Think about it. The original game is a cats whisker away from being a war game, albeit one with fantasy/medieval trappings. So, imagine what would have happened if Gygax, Arneson etc had been playing WW2 skirmish games instead of Chainmail, what would the first RPG have looked like? My feeling is, not actually very different.
All I have to do is grab the rtf file of Swords & Wizardry, and get busy stripping out the fantasy and adding sten guns. Obviously there’s more to it than that, but not a huge amount. What I’m going to do is cleave as closely to the original system as I can, in order to get it finished. Then playtest. Then go back. Playtest. Go back. Layout. Done.
To facilitate this, I’m going with what might look like a crazy idea. Bear with. So in OD&D the majority of characters ended up being Fighting Men. So, soldiers then. Depending on stats you might get a Cleric or MU, which I’m having as NCOs and Officers. Instead of spells, they’ll be getting Commands. The Sarge will be all about morale and getting a medic over, as well as wading in with his squad (see? Cleric). The Officer leads from the back, calling in artillery and co trolling the situation (see? Wizard). That leaves the thief, or as I like to call it Special Ops.
Things get really funky when you look at dwarf and elf characters. How about Sapper and Intelligence?
Honestly, I know I’m being naive, but I think there’s a decent game in this.